Lessons from a jumping star gazer

lessons from jumping

lessons from jumping

So, I jumped off the safety of the mother ship a year ago today.

I didn’t jump because I wasn’t happy. It’s just that I found myself spending so much time looking out the ship’s window. Wanting to be out in the starlit skies of dark space. Dreaming about what lay on the other side of my safe walls. It was a jump that something inside of me needed to take. That part of me ready to fly solo again and the steep learning curve that journey brings. The jump has unleashed a busy year of beginnings and endings. With my heart has been filled and my heart being broken. I’ve grown up because I had to. Because there was no-one else to do it. So far, I’ve quit myself twice. But through the starry darkness, I’ve somehow survived where half of us star gazers don’t. This year I’ve birthed a brand, built a home, and started wearing lycra. It’s been a busy year. And here’s a snippet of what you can learn each month when you go out there on your own.

January:
Jumping is physiologically hard. This is because our brains are hard-wired for walking. Or running. Or sometimes skipping. We – as a general rule – are very good at stepping forwards by putting one foot in front of the other. Moving takes careful motor planning and the application of known patterned behaviour. Jumping to the unknown is awkward. Jumping to the darkness means risk. Jumping implies that falling is a high probability. Along a solo journey, you will fall. Falling really hurts. Learn how to pick yourself up.

February:
Time is sacred. For each hour of time that you’re out there in your world, it takes at least 2 hours of your inside time. Hours at your computer. Hours manifesting your goals. Hours spent at officeworks getting the print just right. Be mindful of how much of your self you’re prepared to put out. If you don’t make the effort to put back in, pretty soon you’ll be empty. Despite what they say, prana has limits. Charity starts at home. Make boundaries.

March:
Not everyone one will understand you, even though you think they do. We could think we’re connecting deeply as we talk about dogs together. You’re talking about your dog – a jack russell pup. While I’m talking about my dog – a senior card holding kelpie. Even though we think we are talking about the same thing, those dogs are pretty bloody different. There’s a million different breeds out there. Assume nothing. Write stuff down.

April:
Dreaming ideas is the easy bit. Yes, it would be great to have every one you have across every social media platform while you run life-changing gigs every weekend. Manifesting reality from all the streams running through your head involves sometimes stepping back and living raw. It takes all the courage that you have and forces you to embrace your hidden vulnerabilities to share your deepest soul. Not everyone will be into what you’re in to. So make sure that you are.

May:
Co-create as much as you can. Know your tribe.

June:
Business is competition. Period. But try not to let it consume you – because it easily can. The strongest competition and the hardest challenge is always going to be the one you have with your self. Meditate every day. It’s not a crime to drink whisky.

July:
Overseas travel is over-rated. No matter your shape or your flexibility, sleeping bolt upright for over 24 hours is wrong. You are not a rock-star and middle-age jet lag sucks. Neck pillows don’t work. Use valium.

August:
Outsource with abandon. No, I’m not so bourgeois that I can’t clean up my own shit, it’s just that I’m sick of telling my loves to pick theirs up. I still clean my own windows. I’m a star gazer who likes to look out and up rather than the look down at the mess on the floor. My cleaner makes me feel taken care of. She tucks my doona into the sides of my bed and leaves rainbows in the bathroom. Let go of your guilt. Prioritise your time.

September:
Even though an exam may be open book – meaning with full access to google and wiki – sometimes you will still get a C. Don’t be a hard-arse and beat yourself up over a year of study culminating in being average. Remember, P’s get degrees. Celebrate your wins – you passed. There’s a million punters out there who would kill for average. Don’t swear while you teach. And don’t call gluteals bastards. Love your bum. Wear lycra.

October:
Those you love won’t be around for as long as you think. Nothing lasts forever. People will leave. Relationships will fail. Friends will move on. Not all the lumps are benign. Not everyone will hang with you for your lifetime. Honour your trauma. Consider it a gift.

November:
Other punters will imitate what you do. And it will frustrate the fuck out of you. Meaning you can do do one of two things. You can either throw a hissy-fit tantrum and tell anyone who bothers to care. Or you can continue to evolve and create your self anew. Look on imitation as a compliment, you’re obviously doing something right. Embrace the challenge to continually innovate your awesomeness. Indulge in your daydreams. Join twitter.

December:
Call your partner your lover. It will remind you to have sex with him occasionally. Partners dig being played with.

And finally, think. Do backbends. Do forward bends. Do twists. Go upside down. Be kind.

Do yoga.

It has been a rollercoaster for me personally and professionally this year. My deepest heartfelt gratitude to those of you have come along with me for the ride. I am so grateful to those of you that have jumped into the abyss of darkness and explored unknown space alongside me. I’m so grateful to those of you that have gifted me the opportunity to do what it is that I love to do. You allow me to continue to be a deep feeler, a complete over-sharer and a breaker of all the rules. You let me be someone who celebrates love, plays by her heart and honours you all as my tribe. You let me be someone who tries to create a space where we can contemplate the full complexity of ourselves and connect to the raw openness of another. The Barwon Heads Yoga room was designed to celebrate life’s wins and share life’s losses. It’s a space dedicated to feeling fully into the difference of what is real and what is apparent. It’s where we play with being malleable. Where we bend so we don’t break. It’s where we can give ourselves permission to be available completely for life’s intimacy. Where we don’t need to rely on others to be reminded of our awesomeness. Where we remember we are not defined by the number of our Facebook feed’s likes.

It’s a space where we simply are asked to make friends with ourselves.

Thank you 2016. It’s been a curly, crazy ride. Thanks to you punters for reading and for sharing. For inspiring and for teaching. And for being such a powerful part of this journey we share.

Merry festivities.
Hug your loves hard.

x

Dreams to be a star

Vickie Wade Fine Art

Vickie Wade Fine Art

So, all I wanted to do was blame Jack Black.

He came into our home alongside for the first time in over 10 years, a television. Moving images are different these days and there are so many channels now. ABC owns no less than 4 of them. And as we are probably the only home in the developed world without Netflix, our favourite channel is not known by an acronym, or a number, or a combination of the 2 – but by a verb .

It’s a channel we refer to as “Go”.

“Go” shows movies. Lots of them. Movies that are kinda long because they are freckled with ads. Lots of them. And because my small people have never really seen many movies, or many ads, we watch 90 minute cinema flicks stretched out over the course of 2 and a half long hours. Every. Sunday. Night.

A few months ago, “The School of Rock” was on channel Go. Jack Black and his hard-core rock out ways proved to be a strong influence on my 3 smalls. My wingman began to gel his hair and throw all the couch cushions on the floor so as to stage dive a mosh pit. My eldest wise one began borrowing guitar books from the library and taught herself “G”. And my middle red began asking for acting lessons. She told me she felt that inside, she was made to be a star. Just like the kids on the screen of school with Jack Black. After a couple of weeks post Black, my wingman’s gel washed out and we could see the lounge room floor again, while my eldest wise one switched back to classical guitar. But my middle red kept asking me about how she could live her now realised deepest heart’s dream. That being how could she become a star on the stage.

I did what any parent with no musical or acting ability would do, I asked Facebook. I was answered with the suggestion that rather than spend 2 hours somewhere in Geelong every week pretending to be acting, that we simply try for the real deal and audition for a show. I agreed that this seemed a more intelligent use of our time.

Soon, along came a call-out for an interest to audition.
It was for a stage part in a local theatre show.

We answered the call-out and went along to the show information evening. A show that my smalls had never seen and knew nothing about. There were over 300 people in the room, mostly other eager small ones. All tuned into hearing about singing and dancing with make up and costumes. We were told they were looking for a show lead and a grouped children’s ensemble. My middle red whispered to me, “I want to audition for the main part.” And as a back-hand after-thought, my eldest wise one said that she may as well too.

We signed up for the 5 minute singing audition which was to be held a week later. We were told to be prompt, bring sheet music and remember to smile. Because I was a bit pressed for time, I squashed both of my no-acting-experience smalls into a single audition slot. Meaning each had two and a half minutes to be prompt with their sheet music and smile. They were both asked to come along to a group audition a few days later. So they could show off some dancing with their prompt singing and smiling. I picked them up later that afternoon and went home to begin promptly forgetting about their first ever attempt at the stage. Because now I needed the focus to fall on Christmas. And before that day falls, I have a crap-load of things to do.

I received a phone call while I was in bed later that same night. A voice saying that he was calling on behalf of the theatre group casting the stage show. He said while both my small ones were fabulously talented, there was one that they just weren’t kind of looking for. He asked if I would be OK if only one of them went through to be cast in the show. He said it wouldn’t be the main role, but part of the grouped children’s ensemble. Holding the weight of my heart in my quiet voice, I asked him which one of my small girls they had cast with a part.

He replied to me that my eldest wise one had been chosen.
Meaning that my middle red had not.

The weight of my heart drop into the pit of my stomach.

Because despite knowing now pretty much every line from Jack Black’s “School of Rock”, I didn’t know what I could say to make anything here right.

Think standing strength, throat openers and metta mediation (loving kindness).

An all powerful calling of our role as matriarchs and mothers is to nurture and honour those that you hold in your soul. To give your small ones every opportunity to have the spaces to realise their dreams and to save them from the pain of life’s inevitable losses. You want to shield them from the schoolroom with it’s potential space of frenemies while you teach them how to honour their own strength and moral compass. You want to save them the bruises of lessons that you had to figure out for yourself while you want to show them that the goal posts aren’t always going to be where they expect them to be. You want to teach them about rejection, about being hurt and about loss – without them actually having to feel any of it. And while we strive to teach our small ones about the way of the big wide world, part of those teachings are the realisation that all their dreams won’t necessarily come true.

And that sometimes, – even though it is completely un-intentional – our sister will step up into what we dreamed would be our spotlight on the show.

I suppose as I hang with my small ones, I want for them to grow up to be a shiner example of what I am myself. I want for them to always believe deeply in themselves and to never doubt any aspect of their process. I want them to not be afraid of dreaming their dreams large and to opening their hearts wide. I want them to spread their arms to their whole experience and then hang on tightly for their ride. And most importantly, I want them to know that I’m woven there with them through their dreams. That I am connected far deeper than words can explain to their soul. And that even though life seems hard to understand sometimes, that I am always there to hold their fragile heart.

Today I learnt that part of being a matriarch and a mother, is to let those you hold in your soul know that sometimes their dreams didn’t come true. So, I stroked my middle red’s hair as I told her the news about the show. She had a little cry. She asked me what she did wrong. She asked me why she wasn’t chosen, yet her sister who stood next to her was. And I answered her with the weight of my heart that I didn’t have any answers. And that we will never really know. Then she stared at me for a really, really long time.

Finally, she broke our silent gaze and she told me she was really proud of her sister. It made the weight of my stomach lift so fast it hurt. I was so concerned with trying to avoid the pain that follows losses, that I had forgotten to celebrate the accolades of my eldest with her success. I confided to my middle red that the best dreams that we have are the ones that we believe are worth fighting the hardest for.

And that if ever there was a gutsy follower of a deepest heart’s dream,

it was her.

x

Living and dying

15192626_1356make peace with your broken pieces_n

So, it seemed an inconvenient time for something to die.

My Saturday morning was supposed to be filled with life. Free to the expansiveness of availability and time. A slow walk along the river, cooked breakfast with my smalls and a spreadsheet newspaper to be consumed with home-brewed chai. My Saturday morning had been hard earned. Backing off from a full-on week with it’s scheduled appointments and structured order. I needed a break. I needed this morning. I needed some space for me.

As I set off to walk the river with my beautiful old kelpies, we saw a sprawl of black and white feathers along the road. It’s strange to see roadkill in the streets of our town, so much so it made my old kelpies stop still and stare. I sighed at life’s loss as I watched a magpie mourn from above. And then I saw in the body of the broken bird on the road, a blinking eye.

Seeing that the half mangled bird in the middle of the coastal street was still alive, I went to try to shift it’s broken body of the road. It flapped it’s still very much alive wings and dragged it’s frightened wild self away from hands, wedging itself up awkwardly against the curb. Caught up in the wildness of it’s eyes, we began being swooped from above. A warning to move away from what the mourning magpie was protecting. I looked up and saw there were 2 more.

I quickly lifted the bird out of the gutter and onto the grass, leaving it to be loved by it’s own. Meaning that I could walk away. Until I heard the unmistakeable flap of more swooping birds. Who weren’t targeting us at all.

They were targeting the bird that was broken.

I ran and waved my arms up at the swooping team of birds. Now seeing 6 black and white magpies wings across the wires painting the sky. The thing about running after a bird is that with cumbersome legs, you have no hope. They just fly upwards where they sit way out of your reach. And this crew, well they just glared at me while defending their hard-earned territory. From the bird they had attacked and broken. From my old wondering kelpies. And from my confused and bewildered self.

So I picked up the broken bird feeling it circle it’s claws around my fingers as if to hold on. And then I carried it home with my 2 hands held against my chest. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why I was doing it. Somehow I saw myself in the broken bird and I knew I couldn’t leave it there to be savaged by it’s own. I knew now I wasn’t holding roadkill.

I was holding savaged life.

When I got home, my world was still asleep. I sat outside on a chair for a bit wondering what to do and where I could handball what had been broken. Too early for Jirralingha and the vet would be closed. I began busying in my head about how I might maybe save the waning life. But the more clouds that passed overhead and the longer I held that broken body against my chest, the more I realised this life was not to be saved. That I was in fact holding this broken magpie while it quietly died.

I held the slowing heartbeat for a bit. Wondering if magpies could think and if it was in much pain. Then a bit turned into 15 minutes. Then 15 minutes into half an hour. Then I started to wonder how long it takes a magpie to die. Or even if this bird was ever going to die at all. I saw my precious timeless morning starting to be measured in scheduled structure again. I wanted to stop holding the bird. I wanted to go and do something else. But every time I tried to put it down in a quiet place to die on it’s own, it’s heart rate quickened and it’s eyes flung open wide. So I stayed outside, even though I had a million other things I wanted to do for myself that morning, and sat there with a dying bird across my heart.

And even though I wondered at times how I could quickly euthanise the bird, I held it – albeit sometimes begrudgingly – for the next 2 whole hours. Even though it was inconvenient, so I could somehow comfort it as it died.

I fell into partnership with this bird as I stroked it’s magnificent wings and felt the length of it’s long pointed beak. The rise and fall of my breath like a gentle reminder for it’s heart to keep beat and keep rhythm. Until suddenly, my broken bird became very much alive and very much awake. It wriggled up to put it’s beak under my hair and spread it’s wings like a feathered cuddle across my chest. It’s heart beat rapidly while it began to open and close it’s mouth. It looked like how a baby magpie would ask for food from it’s mother. Then it opened it’s eyes really wide and stretched it’s neck back to look boldly towards the sky. I felt the rapid heartbeat slowly fade as life flew free from my broken magpie.

Leaving me with a lifeless body in my hands and a broken space inside.

Think restorative forward folds, yin hip openers and inversions.

Honouring the passing of life is just as much a part of us as living our lives fully. It asks for your courage, it asks for your patience and it asks for your fullest and deepest heart. Because sometimes the life that you find yourself helping to live fully is not the birth of something new but the release of something broken. Death doesn’t just happen to old bodies. Just like it doesn’t happen only to those we love. It can happen to our ideas and it can happen to our dreams. Sometimes it’s not to be understood why things have to pass, and why we have to become a part of it. Meaning that even through the process of dying it can be uncomfortable, we learn what it is to completely let go. Reminding us to respect the complexity and fragility of life’s tapestries and life’s cycles. And to celebrate the inherit connection we have as a whole.

Nature can be the harshest battlefield. Where the strong will survive and the weak will be crushed. Where bullying is commonplace and the ultimate consequence can swiftly become the ultimate price. While I held my broken bird across my heart, I had time to consider the emotions that I had felt in times when I felt attacked by those I know. I considered what I wanted to move strongly towards and the consequences of what I would have to leave behind. In birthing something new, there needed to be release of something old. I contemplated the luck that we have across our journeys. How often exceptional circumstances can create great teachings, but how seemingly small acts of nature’s can leave you feeling so completely empty inside.

I chanted a prayer as I buried my broken magpie. The first creature I have ever held fully as organic life-force came to a close. My middle red found me out there in the backyard. She sat down next to me where I was having a little cry. We talked about nature. We talked about bullies. We talked about feeling broken and finding love.

As we sat there under the morning drizzle together, she reached out to hold my hand. And I stopped feeling like I was being attacked like my broken magpie.

And I started to feel like I was safely home inside.

x

a new kitten

How a new kitten in our home opens a new world for my eldest wise one - and me.

How a new kitten in our home opens a new world for my eldest wise one – and me.

So, if you’re up for adopting a kitten – it comes with a bit of a process.

Step one involves trying to persuade your 11 year old eldest wise one that maybe she doesn’t really want a kitten. Because at the end of the day, she was born into a dog family – that being, one who is up for dogs. Not a cat family – that being, one who is up for cats. We have been trying this tactic for about 2 years until finally last month, we succumbed. We came to see that my eldest wise one has been born a cat lover, not a dog lover. Meaning our tactical persuasions against her wisdoms were just never going to work.

Step two involves trawling through google listings of all local kittens up for grabs. It involves wading through – with your 11 year old by your side – the 100+ photos of cats. It’s where you see designer rag dolls on offer while you seek out a passage to the dumped tabbys. Making you have to explain to a wide-eyed child about a world she never knew. A world where a person would dump a litter of babies in a cardboard box at a park and think that’s OK.

Step three involves applying to the rescue organisation saving the kitten on the computer screen. The one that your wise one falls in love with. It involves sending an email to these animal loving saints where you plead your case as to why you feel you could offer the dumped tabby a happy and healthy home. You state your background, tell them all windows have fly-screens and plead your argument as to why living with your 11 year old is a better shot at living peacefully than trying to survive it solo under a bridge in a box.

An abbreviated version of our application letter reads:

Dear animal loving saint,
For her 11th birthday, my eldest wise one would like to adopt kitten X. She is looking for a little one who likes to play and is happy for cuddles. I have 2 other small humans, 9 and 7. The kitten would mostly be inside but it would come to play with us outside sometimes. I have 2 very old dogs who are always outside.
Sincerely,
me.

After pressing “return”, my eldest wise one checked my message bank every 30 seconds for the next 2 hours, eagerly waiting step four, five and six. That is to be acknowledged as a brilliant applicant (step 4) and to make have a time made to meet your daughter’s new love (step 5). This is followed up by dropping $200 and bringing the bundle of whiskered love, so small that he can fit in the palm of you hand, home to sleep on the end of your daughter’s bed. (step 6 – process complete)

Finally, we received our acknowledgement email.

An abbreviated version reads,

Dear me,
Unfortunately, we never adopt out our animals to small children for their birthday as we find that children tire of these presents quickly and they end up back here within 2-3 years. This means that we need to re-house them again, which is harder than re-homing a kitten. Cats should never go outside for they may catch disease. And your dogs might catch them and will probably eat them.
Sincerely,
animal loving saint.

The words made my eldest wise one go white with fear.
Making my inner lioness roar and go white with rage.

An abbreviated version of my response,

Dear animal loving saint,
You can go and stick your cat up your arse.
My eldest wise one is an angel from another world that you can’t begin to imagine. She’s one that tells me how she will always aim for the moon because even if she doesn’t get there, she will always land on a star. She is the most reliable, conscientious 11 year old on the planet and has already dropped $180 on a bloody scratch post for this kitten to play with.
Not ever letting a cat outside is inhumane.
My dogs are so old, they wet themselves every time they make the effort to actually stand up.
You’ve broken my daughter’s heart.
Fuck you,
me.

And my hand hovered over the “return button” for a good 60 seconds.
Before deleting it letter by letter and wiping my harsh judgments clean.

Think inversions, heart openers and bhramari breathing.

It wasn’t the rejection of my application that made my inner lioness roar. It was this apparent rejection of my eldest wise one. My daughter is one who follows all the rules and has always walked wide-eyed through the world. She takes everything in without judging or labelling. She accepts all that is without prejudice or indifference. She is a deep feeler and a great healer with no prescribed notions of closing anyone off or shutting anyone down. Meaning she takes you at face value and into her heart immediately. She read words directed at her telling he she would fall out of love with something she had opened her soul to. And it was enough to put a little shadow on her shine. It was enough to make her question her certainty of being open. It was enough to ask her to question her intuitive wisdom inside. That steady space of centre that she has always had and that has directed her so well for so long.

I watched my eldest wise one fail. And through no fault of her own. And as she started to cry and ask me why, I didn’t have any answers that I could logically explain. Which made me type out my nasty words. Backfiring my judgments because I felt we had been judged so wrong. Until I took a breath and took a moment.

To realise that 2 judgements don’t make it right.

We are hard wired to make assumptions. Perception based on past experiences and examples. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow. But occasionally stepping back from our assumptions, we can get out of own way. Making it easier to see clearly what we have right before us. I couldn’t see a strung out, stressed out volunteer animal lover who was working thanklessly hard to give a poor dumped box of kittens a forever home.

So on Friday afternoon after school, we visited some other 8 week old kittens. The feisty one with a leopard look in his eye to play, went straight for my eldest wise one’s arms. It was mutual love at first sight. So much so it took my breath away. That my wise one bounced back to love so openly and freely so readily. Dropping her hurt. Letting go of her questions. Accepting what she has now so fresh and new. Like that’s all that she has ever been born to do.

Reminding me that that’s what we were all born to do.

x

Block bad – harness good

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery  that the mediocrity can pay to greatness.

block bad – harness good


So, a door closed on me a little while ago.

Some might say that rather than a door closing, that I was “let go”. Or I suppose you could use the word “made redundant”. Harsher still, I was fired. The door was shut over a five minute telephone call. One pot-holed with awkward silences because I had no idea it was coming. Meaning I had no ammunition to defend my space or negotiate a response. The conversation finished on a forced social nicety filled with promises that I knew would never happen. Because when you do yoga, it’s all about rainbows and unicorns.

And yogis don’t loose their shit and get angry.

I made my peace with the closing of the door. I stepped away with dignity and focused on creating my own doors and building my own plans. But then a few days later, someone asked me what had happened. They asked me why I wasn’t standing where for years she had always seen me stand. She made the door creak open again a little. To let me see how I had been replaced on the other side. I saw who stepped into what had been my space for so many years, like rubbing caustic soda into my silently festering wounds. I began to bleed a little more as I let myself indulge in some darker feelings. But I continued with my practice. I continued with my journey. Because when you do yoga, it’s all about rainbows and unicorns.

And yogis don’t loose their shit and get angry.

Last night, I was shown another side of business. A side that some might say is strategic and others might say is downright below the line. They showed me how the essence of my own practice had been mirrored and how my own definition of connection had been copied. It made me finally understand why the door had been closed. It made me finally understand who had actually closed it. The wound that I had been trying to breathe into and move out of just didn’t have time to truly heal. Leaving that raw feeling you get by continually having the scab picked off. So much so it was unconsciously starting to become infected and beginning to feel too exposed and too vulnerable. And even though in yoga, it’s all about rainbows and unicorns

I couldn’t help but loose my shit and get angry.

Think standing strength series, breath of fire and mudra.

We’ve all had a few doors close for us as we navigate the path of our journey. Some doors we step away from, and we choose to close them down immediately. Some we linger in front of for a moment, to see what happens if we watch from the other side. And sometimes doors will be closed for us. Making it feel like nothing less than a slam in the face. It’s hard when you don’t see it coming and it hurts when you don’t want them to close. Because you don’t know why they’re being shut. Or because you don’t know if you can walk the next part of your journey on your own. You can read a million self help books that tell you that when one door closes there’s another one there waiting to open. Doesn’t make it hurt any less and doesn’t make it easier to hold your head up. Especially when you live in a small town and all our doors can be so transparent.

Making everyone around you witness you loosing your shit and getting angry.

This week I watched as a concept that has defined me for over 15 years of teaching, being picked up and used by another. And while my pride was sore from all the doors that had recently been closed around me, it was my heart that hurt so deeply when I saw my stories being shaped by someone new. I’ve tried to continue with my practice. I’ve tried to continue with my journey. But my heart is really, really sore. The wound now so deep and so coarse it’s just so much work to stem the bleeding. But work I am, and heal I will. Because when you do yoga it’s not just about rainbows and unicorns.

And yogis know how to get back up and be strong.

Oscar Wilde said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Which puts a positive spin onto the conscious or unconscious presenting something that you have as your own even though it has been taken from another. We all have our doors. Just like we all have our journeys. It’s just that I share mine as stories as an incentive for you to practice.

Because what you do with your own stories will always be your own.

x

Embraced

Embracing where you are and choosing where you are next to go

Embracing where you are and choosing where you are next to go

So, a boy called Warren Turner was the fastest runner at our primary school.

I remember him as his christian name and his surname. He wore his thin, sandy hair with a bowl-cut fringe. His nose was sharp and his ears were big but my God he could run. And due to his incredible feats of speed, we forgave any physical expression of difference he had. He taught me that if you looked a little different or didn’t quite fit the mould that it was OK – as long as you had a skill set that could impress, you would survive the playground.

There were other full names in my primary years. Glen Bardsley was the first to be called to the principal’s office and get the strap. Fiona Laird was the first girl in my class to have boobs. Raewyn Twomey was the first person who seemed to understand where I was coming form and I held her in my heart as my first ever best friend. These people were my first crew and they layered themselves across my journey. Teaching me how far was too far, how big was too big and shaped me to step up and survive my formative years.

In primary school, we practiced being grown up and we practiced fitting in. It was a simpler time – before character strengths and social media. There was no school uniform and we made up our rules as we went along. We played kiss chasey. Firstly so as not to be caught by boys. And then so we could get caught by boys. I always wanted Peter Ecott to catch me. We were all arms and legs and looked like stick insects. We ate sometimes food every day and yet still moved like a sea of knees and elbows.
And then our bodies started to change a little. Warren Turner’s voice started to sound all wobbly so he stopped talking to us. Glen Barnsley moved his sharpness to another school. Fiona Laird started wearing floppy jumpers to hide her growing boobs. My bestie and I were late bloomers so I suppose we just kinda clung to each other. We still made cubbies in the bush, devoured Milo off the spoon and somehow survived in our pre-pubescent bliss bubble.

A bliss-bubble that popped for me quite suddenly one Sunday morning in 1984.

It was a swimming friend’s mum that suggested I look at my hips. It was a morning right after aggregate swimming and our treat for getting up at dawn to race laps was the promise of a cream bun from the bakery on the way home. I can’t remember why she was at our local bakery with us. And I can never remember her ever being there again. It was an innocent comment. A suggestion aimed to help me rather than wedge such an acute corner into my journey so far. She told me I should watch how many cream buns I was eating, she told me as I wiped the creamy jam off my nose. Unbeknowns to me, I was developing my “womanly body”. And cream buns can be dangerous, “they go straight to your hips.”

Apparently even when you don’t have any because you’re 12.

So that there, at the counter of a suburban bakery that Sunday morning, I learned that what you put on your tongue eventually sits on your bum. The words of wisdom shared to me by a parent of a peer who existed to me as a full name because in my world she was special at something.

And a body – food relationship was born.

Think hip openers, earth based back bends and savasana.

The path of your journey is coloured with different people and different places. Some times will be remembered acutely and some will fold into memory spaces for you to forget. For me, the corners of my journey, places where I have had to shift and change directions, often have someone with a full name holding the sign of suggestion. Friends at school who showed me boundaries. Friends in the playground that showed me love. Friends at the bakery who showed me well-meaning suggestions that became mis-interpreted directions towards relationships of control and self-value. I’m not for one minute blaming anyone’s full name for what had unintentionally been done or for where I may have been at. Because without being where I was back then, there’s no way I could be where I am now. My journey has been like anyone’s – up and down and then around and around. Because no path is straight. And real paths don’t always just move forwards.

And it’s what you learn on the way to where you’re going rather than simply the destination at the end.

Last night, I took my daughters to a movie. One which invited to them to become aware of media and social stereotypes and to embrace their bodies with where they are at. I thought I was going for them, but I suppose I was also going for me. Because my work is the body – I bend them, I breathe with them, I heal them – and being conscious with the choices that you make when there are corners laid across your path, means we can create a different future.

Where it is your own full name that chooses where you go.

#IHaveEmbraced

x

Pieces of the puzzle

Fitting the pieces of the puzzle together can be sometimes kinda tricky

Fitting the pieces of the puzzle together can be sometimes kinda tricky

o, my wingman started a jigsaw puzzle on Friday.

It was a present. One he received following a significant birthday this week. The recent turning of the clock ticking over the emergence of his new age. When you turn seven, doors to growing up seem to continually open. He can now legally shot-gun for the front seat. He can step up into the land of 7-12 yr lego. He tells me when he grows up that he wants to play for the Cats and he knows that if he promises to wear a mouthguard and helmet, next year he can start playing junior football.

It was Aristotle who said “give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man” so it is with great interest that recently, I’ve been watching my youngest lad. I see him navigate stepping up to and into his manhood. Practicing air guitar on his light saber while he stage dives. Self-commentary of his greatness as he marks on the trampoline. He walks around to a different beat to his sisters and even though he knows he will never catch them, I watch him chase after the accolades of their age.

It was last Friday, just before school, that my wingman started his Star-Wars jigsaw puzzle. I was making everyone’s breakfast as I heard him tip it all out on the lounge-room floor. “This piece goes here, good. And this piece goes here, yes…..” he coached himself along solo as he does through so many stages of his journey. Until quietly, the self-commentary of his greatness stopped. A moment of silence was broken by his wordless sigh. Shifting quickly into wordless groans as he stared at the floor. I heard his sounds formulate into vowels of frustration and syllables of anger. Until he yelled, “Mum! This stupid puzzle is broken and the pieces don’t fit anymore!”

It was my lover who stepped up to and into my wingman’s manhood. The intimacy of watching my lads connect as father and child makes me ache with longing to hold them both in the moment forever. My wingman watched in awe as his dad ran his own self-commentary of greatness. Claiming that he himself was a jedi-master of jigsaw puzzles and that he had been doing them his whole life. He spoke of the many years of practice and the many hours of training to perfect his jedi puzzle technique. My lover sat down next to my son, sprawling their testosterone-clad words of greatness all over the floor, and he promised to share his jigsaw secrets.

“The trick with a jigsaw puzzle is to find all the corners. Find the flat bits and with them make the periphery. When you have built all the borders of the picture from the outside, it makes it easier to start seeing what your looking for. Then start working in.”

Think standing sequences, side openers and bandha.

Sometimes it can be hard to solve the puzzle as we sit right before it. We can see some of the smaller parts of the picture, but it can be hard to make out any context of the whole. Some pieces will come and connect together smoothly. Especially if it’s something that we recognise or something that we know well. Faces, fingers, feet. While other pieces will need more concentration and they will require much more effort. There may be a strategy that we need to learn how to use, or to allow us to move past something that we think we have recognised but doesn’t work. To create the shades of the sky or the tones of the earth. Ultimately puzzles ask us to seek out, interpret and construct smaller pieces to eventually create a full picture. One which can represent images and places within the construct of our understanding of the manifest world.

When pieces of the puzzle don’t fit as we would expect them to or the way that we would like them too, the easiest thing to do is to pull back and call the jigsaw stupid. This gives us permission to step back from hard things and label them a waste of time. It gives us an exit to move away from things that are uncomfortable and claim them as not worth our effort. Yet if we persist patiently, if we work mindfully, maybe we can create something as it manifests true for ourselves. Fleshing out the corners and the borders to work towards the centre of the whole.

On Friday morning, I watched my lover and my wingman fit the pieces of a Star Wars jigsaw puzzle together. It felt odd to be on the outside of their connection, to see them create a space for lads alone. They worked together from the puzzle periphery until eventually Darth Vader’s head was formed. I watched my lover mould and shape my wingman into being a true man of his own. Providing a periphery lattice framework of loyalty and of strength and of trust.

On Saturday, when things became tricky with making lego Obi-Wan, my wingman called out to me again. Only this time, he asked me for my help. He said there was a part that he was finding tricky. He couldn’t make out the instructions and he couldn’t make the pieces fit. I answered that of course I would love to help him. Whether he be the child of seven or a grown man steering his course through his manifest world, I would love to help him. But he didn’t need me. This time, he put the piece of the puzzle in by himself. All I had to do was stand a little behind him. So I told my wingman – as I watched him start to fly away even further than he ever had before – with all of his potential and all of his luck and across all the courses throughout his journey, that I will always stand behind him.

So that he truly knows, in his deepest space his heart, that I always will.

x

See-sawing

see-saw up and down

So, I have a friend who rides a see-saw life.

Sometimes, the see-saw will ride high. When they’re up there, they tell me that the sky-view is limitless and it fuels the inspiration for their amazing dreams. When the bounce of life’s see-saw lifts my friend up, their visions are vivid and easily shared. Seeds of inspiration float freely between us and I get a glimpse of heights that – if I was flying solo – would simply give me vertigo. But when my friend rides high, they don’t feel dizzy. Instead, they find it somehow soothing. Feeling their ride take them so close to the heat of the sun. Giving them incredible see-saw views across the sky. Views that I could never hope to imagine unless I occasionally let my feet come up off my ground. To follow where their charisma will lead. To dare myself to jump and let go. And when I do let myself follow them, when I take the dare to jump,

I never kinda come back here the same.

But sometimes the see-saw doesn’t ride so high. Because as the third law of motion states, “what goes up must also come down.” When my friend’s see-saw comes down, it does so with a heavy thud. Meaning mostly, the ride crashes and so often, the ride gets stuck. So that they charismatic confidence fades. They struggle to feel their dream because they struggle to see the sky. When my friend’s see-saw falls, it’s as if they forget how to look up. And even if I remind them of the places we’ve been together and the dreams that they showed me across the sky

they never kinda come back the same.

Last week, my friend’s see-saw fell down again. And even though we all knew it was coming, we hadn’t seen the ride land so hard in a long while. It can break your heart to watch the see-saw ride. I’ve watched so many I love ride for so long, I can taste when the dangerous exhilaration is shifting towards the turgid darkness. Even though they tell me they don’t know why the see-saw bumps and it’s something they can’t control, from the outer it’s easier to see.

It’s just the depth of the crashing that’s hard to predict.

My friend has battled again this week, with their bottomed out see-saw getting stuck in the deep of the dark. We all agreed that it’s not fair and we all agreed that this time is another hard one. And it wasn’t until my friend asked me quietly – past the buzz words for head house-cleaning – for what I thought it was they should do. Past all the healthy eating and the exercising. Past all the being in nature and the practicing gratitude. Past all the other strategies that kinda work for a bit, but kinda haven’t lifted the see-saw for the last few times. Until I looked at my friend’s frightened eyes, to a place that they were always to raw to hide,

and just asked them to be a true friend to themselves.

Think standing forward folds balance and nadi shodhana.

Sometimes we can be so focused on looking upwards and outwards. Moving manically forwards to pursue the next amazing idea or feeding the next inspirational dream. So much so that sometimes we can forget to look across to see where we’re at, or to look down to see where we’ve come from. Where we will catch a glimpse of those who love us. Where we are reminded of the touch by someone who cares. And when it’s thought that about 95% of our behaviour is driven by our subconscious – that being the stuff we can’t see behind our actions and our feelings – we can come to understand that we do have the potential to create a space of deep healing. One which resides before our perception comes into play. Where we understand that high is just a relative space to low. And that light is just a relative space to dark.

And that the space between the opposites is where we can have the steadiest balance.
Allowing us to be as brave and as vulnerable as we could ever dare to be.

I asked my friend to treat themselves the way that they would treat me. As a friend who loves and shares and as a friend who hurts and bleeds. And I can’t tell you that the see-saw has become completely unstuck from this latest crash.
Not yet.
But I can feel that the dark is not so bleak and not so scary.

And I’m pretty sure my friend can feel that too.

x

AFL love

western bulldog heart

So, I fell out of love with football when I was 8 years old.

Back then, football was a Saturday afternoon thing. We parked our car on the boundary-line and I would watch my dad play across the hilly grounds of the outer eastern suburbs. Watching was a loose word. Really, I climbed willow trees and hung out near the canteen, begging punters for dim-sims or smarties. I barracked for my dad. I barracked for his team. They were simple days when shorts were very short and smoking at half time was the norm. Weekends lasted forever and for half of mine, we called dibs on who would beep the car-horn for the next goal.

When I was 8, another kid from my school asked me who I barracked for. I was sitting on my school bag, lining up for the start of class. In my hands, I held my show-and-tell – a Mr Fussy candle. I answered that I barracked for my dad and that he played for Seville. The kid punched me in my arm and told me that I was stupid and that I didn’t follow a real team. 5 minutes later, his wayward football was kicked into my hands where it smashed my candle apart.

I was heart broken on so many levels.

Not trusting my parents about who I should barrack for, I asked my Pa. He proudly told me I was of Collingwood blood. I, with my sisters, accepted the team. I promptly asked for a black duffle coat.

My mum never let me get number 30 on my back. She thought it was a phase. That I would grow out of Peter Moore.
I never did.
I remember I liked the toggled buttons.

So even though I still have all my own teeth and even though I don’t know who my current team captain is, when people ask me who I barrack for, I say Collingwood. So they don’t punch me in the arm or break my heart by smashing whatever it is I hold in my hands. But I don’t watch any games, I can’t stand football media and I begged my wingman to play soccer.

To me, football finals are a legitimate excuse to drink beer before noon and really, the only game I pay any attention to all involves the national anthem to precede it and half-time entertainment.

We watched a football game on the telly yesterday. Along with seemingly the rest of the state. And even though we all follow different teams – we all seemed to barrack for the home side. The build up of Brownlows, breakfasts and parades meant somehow we were pulled on the underdog bandwagon. For some, it was the first time in a life-time that their team had made a grand final. For us, it was the first time in a life-time that we owned a telly so we could watch it. Even though we’re not really a footy family, my smalls filled our home with coloured streamers and hot dogs. When the final siren sounded to the underdogs’ tears of dream realisation, we hugged each other and embraced their tears as our own.

Now even though we haven’t owned a telly in over 10 years, I’ve seen enough fourth quarters to know the post-match drill. The men in buttoned suits hold microphones to boys in sweaty shorts. Winners back-slap and talk about “the club” and losers hang their heads and hit the showers unheard. And I know that it’s not PC to talk about differentiating the two – but in reality, that’s life.

Because sometimes you will be on the winning side and sometimes, you will loose.

Today, football players are not only coached on how to run fast and kick goals, but these days they are trained on how to speak to the microphone held by the suit. Sentence structures revolve around the “football club” and everything spoken is de-individualised and termed as about the collective “group”. Grown men are still referred to as “the boys” and lifetimes are delineated into either the last 7 days or the next 7 ones coming 7.

Unless it’s the grand final, where the elusive timeline ends in the moment.

Now as I said, I’ve seen enough fourth quarter shenanigans to last me a lifetime. And I’m not really in love with too many aspects of the game. So yesterday after the final siren, I hit the kitchen to fire up more hotdogs and burgers to feed my tribe. I missed the suits talking to the boys. I missed the group accolades mixed in with the hung heads of sorrow. I missed the auskickers placing medallions around their hero’s necks. Small folk with their own dreams of being the boys and girls who talk to men in suits and of living in a timeline revolving around the 14 days of a collective group.

But I managed to pull my head out of the oven to see the final medal presented as part of the winning group. It was taken off from the broad shoulders of a man and placed onto the heart of one of his boys. A boy who even though injury had stolen his own childhood dream, he had fronted up every 7 days wearing the team tracksuit. Only to sit on the bench and watch the dreams of his “club” come true. It made me see that football speak and football culture when truly lived can be used as a platform for hope.
And that there is such potent power in kindness when you are brave enough to give your own dream away.

Especially if it gives someone a chance to touch their dream too.

Think hip owners, standing balance and metta meditation.

Sometimes it takes the smallest act of heart to remind you of what can be received when you deeply believe. And it can be hard to realise this as it often takes you moving through all the passages created by others to forge the path that works for you. It means stepping up and taking the reins. To be what you want rather than what you’ve been told to be.

It means sometimes taking your childhood dream off you own shoulders. Just so you can place it onto the heart of a just-as-deserving other.

Next year, we might become a football family. Now that we have a telly and now that we’ve discovered the fun of running through a banner to cheer a favoured side. And now that I can see past all the words that the politically correct media use to say nothing while being asked to say something, I can let myself enjoy watching the intricacies of a real game again. Because your actions can speak so much louder than your words. Because your team can be anyone and anything that you want it to be.

I asked my wingman this morning what his favourite part of the Grand Final day was. Was it the running through the banner? Was it the multiple hot-dogs in his belly? He looked at me square as only he can when he talks to my heart.

“I liked it when the coach gave his medal away to the man who hurt his leg.”

“Me too,” I answered, and somehow fell a little in love with football again.

x

sensitive ones

goddess pose

So, sometimes life will ask you to harden yourself up.

Maybe it might take something from you so that you remember love is fragile.
Or maybe it might put something forwards so that you remember time can too easily be lost.
And sometimes it may remind you that not everyone is going to see things the way that you see them. That your way may not always be agreed on as the right way.

And that sometimes words that fall without care or kindness can make sensitive people like me feel very, very small.
Last week, a colleague at work reminded me of my place in the unspoken hierarchy. He bought tears to my eyes that I refused to let anyone see. He smashed a ding in my confidence that I refused to let anyone touch. He put me back in a place of self questioning and self doubt. A place that had taken many miles on the road to walk from and many years on the mat to breath into. It took his one sentence, repeated twice, to make me feel fragile and lost and small.

I spent 3 laying with stolen sleep. I tossed and turned, ruminating about what to do and how to do it. On how an un-hard person like me can harden up. On how un un-confrontational person like me can step up. On how to keep professional and personal separate.

When to me – a sensitive soul and a deep feeler – the two sides are simply shades of the same.

I wore pants and a pressed shirt when I went to face my nemesis. So I could believe that I looked stronger and somehow feel smarter. I rehearsed my words – and my perception of his deflections. I drove slow to work without the radio. So I could practice being my harder self without distraction. So I could concentrate on confrontation without the necessity of noise.
Until I realised I was practicing being someone pretending. Role playing to be indifferent and wearing a mask to be brave. And wearing this costume on my body and holding this fake sword across my heart was practicing trying to be someone other than simply myself.

Think abdominal twists, throat openers and brahmari breathing.

Words can fall like carelessly like splinters of glass across a concrete floor. Firstly, the primary focus is held on the big noise and fall out of the smash. There are big clunky pieces that you can pick up with your hands. Pieces easy enough to see so that you can wrap them in newspaper to put in the bin. But there can also be those tiny slithers of sharpness. Those small pieces that slide under the kicker of the bench. Those small pieces that bounce to opposite side of the room. Those small pieces that you don’t pick up immediately. Because you forget them with your hands and you miss them with your broom. You only find them when you chance to walk across them. They leave small splintered cuts in your feet. Slices that make your body pull inwards and contract. To protect you from pain. To protect you from bleeding. Contracting inwards and receding away from the that which makes you feel vulnerable and that which makes you feel weak. Until you limp around awkwardly, residing in a contracted space of yourself. That even though you find hard to understand, seems a safer place of self.

Only you walk very different.
And look smaller.

I walked into work to find my body feeling harder and my heart confrontationally stronger. Not because I’d stepped up and yelled back at a bully’s words. Not because I had screamed and ranted to HR. But because I held my head high and accepted that I am a sensitive soul. Remembering that I have an instinctual connection to intimacy that makes me feel things fully and makes me open myself completely. And in order to live a real and free life, you have to let yourself see so many colours and shades of the world. I won’t let myself be afraid of my feelings. I won’t let myself be made small by someone else’s small words. And I won’t let myself harden away from who I am and where I feel myself to be.

Because I know in my heart that if I do, I’ll start to step awkwardly through life like I have hidden splinters of glass in my feet.

And if I let myself be trained to walk like this, eventually, I’ll be left with feeling nothing at all.

x